Growing New Farmers

chicago-rooftop-farm_wide-7cbe7ae709a8afc2f75650d26929ff43f82d1c3e-s6-c30

Contemplating adding the title of “farmer” to your growing repertoire of talents? Now just may be the perfect time. According to an announcement by the U.S. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden at last month’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee meeting, attractive new implementations and policy changes are being made to the Farm Bill that offer financial security to newbie farmers and ranchers.

Since the average age of the U.S. farmer is 58 and older, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking to attract fresh faces to the field with these appealing new perks. Among said incentives are: waiving service fees for new and beginning farmers looking to enroll in the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for 2014; increasing pay rates to beginning farmers and ranchers under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the development of a farmers website full of helpful need-to-know info for wannabe growers.

In the near future, the USDA is also looking to bring discounted insurance premiums to beginner farmers. Has the idea grown on you yet?

Read MoreRead More

Unified Development Ordinance

decaturga

CoCard can be found in the beautiful community of Decatur, Georgia. Although our grassroots community is one of the most economically sound, and intriguing in the metropolitan Atlanta area, it still requires many improvements.

Many members of the community are either aware of, or actively involved in a community uplift project entitled the ‘Unified Development Ordinance’,.  For those who aren’t, ‘UDO’ is a collaborative citizen effort initiated due to the rapid economic and residential development of Decatur. This project has been put in place to help combat a plethora of conflicting regulations that have been in place long before community uplift began.

Read more about the Unified Development Ordinance here.

A majority of the UDO consists of cleaning and tightening Decatur’s library of existing development regulations, forming a unified document for practice.  A small portion consists of community gatherings and informational meetings, organized with the intention to reach a consensus on  regulations that are particularly hard to agree on.

These meetings discuss various issues in the community that play large roles in lifestyle, including: zoning categories for different residential demographics, sustainability for the environment and resources, storm water protocol for residents, and community character.

CoCard is an active member in the community of Decatur, and we offer our full support to all efforts looking to improve the quality of living for residents. CoCard  also provides electronic payment processing services for businesses located in Decatur and across the US, and we   believe that the well-being of the community is   a constant call to action for us. Whether you’re a business owner in Decatur looking to improve the community, or simply an entrepreneur looking for a secure electronic payment and fraud prevention service, CoCard is definitely the service for you!

Read more about CoCard here.

Read MoreRead More

How to Have Your Best Business Vacation Ever

photo

A recent survey done by American Express OPEN shows that small business owners are more comfortable taking summer vacations this year than any other year during the recession.

According to the survey, a reported 60% of respondents (small business owners) are planning a week-long vacation for this summer. This is a tremendous leap from last year’s record low 49%, and the highest percentage since 2006. The Small Business Monitor is crediting this increase to a rise in economic confidence on behalf of business owners, as well as in general optimism for sales.

Because so many small business owners are going on vacation this summer, it may be hard to keep the balance in the workplace. Here are a few tips to help you keep your business on track, so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

Stop waiting for the perfect trip

For many business owners, the only reason they don’t actually take a vacation is because they don’t believe any options are convenient. Constantly looking for the perfect week in Paris, or that extended stay in Hawaii, business owners can miss simple opportunities to just get away. It doesn’t have to be fancy or extravagant, just somewhere that‘s unfamiliar and keeps your mind away from your office. A trip to the mountains can provide you solitude that promotes both productivity and relaxation. Wherever you decide to go, just go somewhere.

Plan for your return

Although you’re leaving your office for a period of time, you’re probably still thinking about everything that’s still left to be done in your absence. Instead of beating yourself up about what needs to get done, make a list of everything you want to accomplish on your return, and leave it at that. Make a few quick edits or additions to the list when an idea hits you, but other than that, make the list and leave it alone.

Sleep in

This can be a very hard concept to grasp when you actually have the time to do it. A lot of us get so caught up in the daily grind of waking up early and going to bed late, when we actually have the time to rest, it almost feels wrong. Catch up on all the sleep you’ve missed in recent weeks, and make it a point to do EVERYTHING on your own time. You spend every waking moment living on a schedule, how about you just take the day on as it comes?

Check in when YOU feel like it

Many small business owners tend to forget that the purpose of a vacation is to actually get away from work. Often times, owners will get sucked into making sure things are still on track while they’re away from the office. A true vacation means unplugging completely from work and only providing contact for emergency situations. Obviously, it’s not recommended that you abandon your staff in entirety, so putting a little time aside each day to check emails and voice messages is a good strategy. Maybe thirty minutes here or there, just don’t let staying in the loop dictate your vacation.

Bring your family

Working with your own business can have you so consumed in your office culture that you lose touch with the whole reason you’re even there; make sure to include your close friends and family on your vacation to restore balance to your life. Catch up with friends, see how your kid is feeling, give your significant other a day of attention. Don’t lose the queen trying to protect the castle.

Give your employees the reins, see who steps up

In any business, there are employees beneath the managers who have high potential to lead in the future. When you take your leave, make sure you let these people know the responsibilities and expectations you have set for them. They should be the ones that you know can keep your business moving seamlessly in your absence. Who works the fastest? Who gets the most done each day? Who understands your vision? These are important questions to ask, and the answers that you get will ultimately decide who is next in line to run your business.

Enjoy the moment

This may sound like a cut-and-dry statement, but always take time to actually appreciate your vacation. Stop and look, try some food you’ve never had before, take a lot of pictures; do everything in your power to make the trip as memorable as possible. Often times, moments of inspiration and epiphanies hit us when we are at the peak of positive thought. You may become inspired with an ingenious business idea while enjoying your time off, and who knows, it could make all the difference for your next quarter.

Get excited!

Although planning a vacation somewhere can be stressful for a multitude of reasons, that’s still not a good enough reason to dread the process. Sure, packing, booking, and the actual traveling process can be a tax, but once all of that is out of the way, you feel great! Often times, just anticipating a new adventure can be enough to get you through a tough day you’re having. Use the potential for a great, memorable experience to motivate you through your last few days of work. Having something to look forward to boosts your morale, happiness, and promotes positive thought.

 

Read MoreRead More

Out of This World

image_1961e-Kepler-10c

It sounds like the premises for a sci-fi flick: Astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics just discovered a rocky distant “mega-earth” that weighs 17 times more than our planet, and that shows plausible implications for life. Given the moniker, Kepler-10c, this newly discovered planet is 560 light years from earth, circles a sun-like star every 45 days, and is approximately 11 billion years old (which resets our idea on the age of the universe). Rocky planets like this offer the best conditions for life. Given the age of this planet, scientists now know they shouldn’t count out old stars when they’re looking for signs of life. So, is there something else out there? Let the hypothesizing begin!

Read MoreRead More

City Spotlight: Rio

Rio-De-Janeiro-Beautiful

You’ve already heard the buzz: Rio is the place to visit right now thanks in large part to its selection as the hosting city for two major sporting events. Starting June 12, it will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament and in 2016, it will play host city to the 2016 Summer Olympics. Whether you have plans to see either of these sporting events onsite or not, there are a few things you’ll want to know when planning an excursion to Brazil’s coastal city.

Scattered with beaches, historic sites, rain forests and music, Rio is a vivid locale that’s vibrant with life. Its idyllic natural setting and temperate yearly climate makes it a strong candidate for outdoorsy types looking for a place to hike, surf and explore the flora and fauna. Sign up for a bike tour, swim among 100 area beaches, rock climb to the top of Sugar Loaf mountain and hike at the Serra Dos Orgaos National Park. A pick-up soccer game is always recommended.

Foodies who prefer centering their trips around local cuisine will be delighted by the options. Strong drinks, and spice-infused seafood, beef, black beans and rice are all staples of the local diet. Be sure to try Brazil’s national dish, feijoada (black bean stew with beef, pork, collards and rice) and to sample the area’s street food in-between the finer dining options. View travel expert Anthony Bourdain’s top food picks and takeaways here.

Renowned for its music and party-going atmosphere,  the nightlife scene in Rio is legendary. While you’re in town, take advantage of the vast nightclubs, bars and discos peppering the area. You can enjoy a truly unique experience during the 200-year-old tradition of Rio de Janeiro Carnival–which takes place in the four days before the beginning of Lent each year and includes a dancing competition between various samba schools at the annual parade.

Read more about Rio here 

Read MoreRead More

Happy Father’s Day!

From all of us at CoCard, happy Father’s Day! On June 15, we salute all of our leading men for their guidance, their love and their support. Make sure you pick up the phone and thank your old man for being a great guy. Thinking about doing something special for him? Plan an outing together that you know he’ll enjoy. Take him to a baseball game. Go play a round of golf, just the two of you. Go fishing. Take him out for a steak or a burger (depending on how dressed up he likes to get) and gift him something small but gentlemanly—a pocket knife, a beer growler, a shaving brush, cufflinks, a pocket square. Most importantly, ‘fess up that you love him.

Read MoreRead More